As the nation celebrates Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of service with an array of Platinum Jubilee events, Royal Surrey looks back with pride on its royal patronage.
The Trust’s links with the royal family originate over 150 years ago. Queen Victoria originally bestowed the royal title on the Trust 1866, in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert.
Queen Victoria also became a patron of the project to build the £17,000 hospital, which was then based in Farnham Road, Guildford. She donated 100 Guineas of her own money towards the project.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is the current Patron of Royal Surrey and first visited the hospital to open the Trust’s home in Egerton Road, Guildford, in 1981. She returned 16 years later to open St Luke’s Cancer Centre, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Two members of staff who remember the 1981 and 1997 visits by the Queen are Emma Fox, Sister on Wisley Ward, and Clare Cowan, Medical Secretary.
Emma said: “I was working on Hascombe ward in 1997 as a staff nurse when the Queen opened St Luke's Cancer Centre. I remember going about my work as usual, but every time I passed the window in the fire door between the two wards I peered through to see if I could see anything. I caught a glimpse of the back of the Queen’s head and I saw Prince Phillip as he was walking around the corner. Everyone was very excited on the ward. The patients in Bay A had a lot of extra checks that day as we all tried to catch a glimpse through the door as we were passing.”
Clare said: “I wasn't working at Royal Surrey when the Queen came to open the new site in 1981 but we were given the day off school to come and watch. I recall standing right opposite the entrance, probably where the Zebra crossing is now, so had a very good view of the Queen getting out of her car. All the schoolchildren lined up in front of the hospital and were given Union Jack flags to wave. Shame we don’t have any photos though!”
Since the Queen’s first visit in 1981, the Trust has grown from a humble 60-bed hospital with just 248 inpatients, 1,580 outpatients and 12 operations a year to a Trust that serves a population of three million people across several sites. It is a national leading cancer centre, supporting more than 8,500 cancer patients a year.
To mark the Platinum Jubilee weekend, the Trust’s Medirest catering team has a right royal treat in store for patients. The special menu for Sunday 5 June includes a choice of roast turkey and all the trimmings, steamed salmon, or a vegan shepherd’s pie, with trifle, jam sponge, fruit salad or chocolate custard for dessert.
The Wellspring staff restaurant will offer a similar special menu for those working on the day to highlight the occasion.
Louise Stead, Royal Surrey’s Chief Executive, said: “We are extremely proud of our royal family connections and would like to take this opportunity to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her patronage and support over the years.
“The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee coincides this year with our own celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of St Luke’s Cancer Centre, which was opened by Her Majesty in 1997. The anniversary is an important one, which allows us to reflect on how far we have come and to highlight how our Trust and its committed staff are continuing to develop our service to the community with plans for a new private cancer treatment facility, which NHS patients will also have access to.
“I am privileged to head up a Trust that has such a talented and skilled workforce who are constantly looking at ways to innovate and improve our patient experience despite the enormous challenges within the NHS.”